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Arsenal legend Perry Groves bravely opens up about breakdown and alcohol abuse

Arsenal legend Perry Groves bravely opens up about breakdown and alcohol abuse as he appeared on talkSPORT earlier this week.

The 58 year old is an English former footballer, known mostly for his time at Arsenal who usually played as a winger, and occasionally as a striker.

Groves also played for the likes of Colchester United, Southampton, Dagenham & Redbridge, and Canvey Island.

Since then, he has worked as a media pundit at Sky Sports, BBC Radio 5 Live, BT Sport, Absolute Radio as well as talkSPORT.

On Tuesday the 5th of September 2023, he appeared on the talkSPORT radio station to discuss his journey to getting sober this year and his time in rehab after suffering a breakdown.

Speaking on the White and Jordan show, he said: “I have to say, I never thought it would happen to me. I never thought I would have the complete mental and physical breakdown that I had.

“I thought long and hard about it. [Jim White] is about 12 years [sober], I’m seven months sober today.

“I’m 58 [years old] now, I think this is the biggest achievement I’ve ever had because I thought long and hard about coming on [air to speak about it].

“But the reason I’ve come on is if it helps one person out there who listens to this, my story and they reach out for help, that’s what I did.

“As I say, I was completely shot, mentally and physically, had a massive breakdown, I was in denial, I didn’t for a million years think it was anything to do with alcohol.

“Then when I did I was lucky enough to go into Sporting Chance, Tony Adam’s rehab centre that he started in 2000.

“Then I realised I had a severe drink problem, I am an alcoholic and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Now I’ve been made more aware of what it is, it’s actually a disease.

“It’s a disease whether you’re a drug addict, a gambling addict, or whatever addiction you have. If you have alcoholism, it’s your brain, you don’t work in the same way a normal person does.

He adds it he didn’t drink alcohol every day, so never considered he could be addicted to it, considering his previous perception of what an alcoholic was only matched that description.

But it was the morning after Groves was on air with talkSPORT for a Premier League fixture that he suffered a breakdown, postponing coming on another show that day.

He continued: “The reason I’ve come on air is because no matter how bad – I’ve had mental health problems as well – no matter how bad you think the situation is, or how desperate you feel, there is help.

“If you talk to somebody and you reach out, there is help. It doesn’t matter how bad you think the situation is, you can reach out to the Samaritans, whether you think you’ve got an addiction, you can go to AA meetings all around the country, you can just walk in there.

“The NHS were brilliant with me as well. There’s help there for everybody, but if I didn’t go in – and I was lucky enough to go into Sporting Chance – for rehab for 28 days, I don’t think I’d be here.

“I genuinely think they saved my life, because I was going nowhere. I had nothing.”

Twitter users reacted as Arsenal legend Perry Groves bravely opens up about his breakdown and alcohol abuse…

@AndertonMabbutt: Tottenham fan here. I’d imagine 7 hrs is hard enough when you’re at your worst, so respect for 7 months. It’s a refreshing change to hear TalkSPORT give air time to an ex-player who isn’t glorifying their alcoholism. Perry, you’re not only brave, but honest too. All the best. ✊

@LordFingers: Nothing but love and respect ❤️❤️

@richardhorne51: 9 years for me i go in pubs and just drink tonic waters now feel fab and i drank morning noon and night feel fab now keep going

@JonathanMcCusk3: Fair play Perry. The utmost respect for your honesty is appreciated. 👊🏻🇾🇪

@ComeOnYouOrns: FairPlay, alcohol can ruin lives an sometimes it is to late… I’ve recently lost my family due to it an would give everything to change it but can’t…

@morpethhack: Thank you for sharing your story, Perry. Admitting to yourself there is a problem, and seeking help are the difficult – but essential – parts. I’m four years and three months sober after a 20-year battle. Putting the bottle down is the best thing I’ve ever done

@Jasep2005: Well done Perry I’m 14 years sober and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done

@wjs1953: Good for you lad, I’m 25 years sober

@MattWG68: Good interview, more power to Perry for using this platform to self heal and to help others in the fight against addiction and getting mentally fit, it literally is good to talk 💪🏻

@jasiocollins: So much respect to anyone who is fighting a battle. And working so hard to get clean. The sad part tho, is there is not always help. You can get to a point that you admit you need help with MH or addiction. You finally try to reach out and there are no answers.

@MrShaneLee: Well done Perry. One day at a time. There may be slip ups in the future, but as long as you remember to always get back on the horse, you will get there.

@MARCHANTK: Well done for admitting the issue. I wish you the strength to get through the day without it

@NigelPearson2: Well done Perry, that’s the hardest part behind you. Try to stay positive at all times, which I know can be very difficult. Even after 21 years sober I’m still recovering, but in a better place than I was. Like you if I hadn’t given up, I wouldn’t be hear now.

Realising you have a problem with alcohol is the first big step to getting help.

You may need help if:

  • you often feel the need to have a drink
  • you get into trouble because of your drinking
  • other people warn you about how much you’re drinking
  • you think your drinking is causing you problems

A good place to start is with a GP. Try to be accurate and honest about how much you drink and any problems it may be causing you.

If you have become dependent on alcohol, you will have found it difficult to fully control your drinking in some way.

So you’ll probably need some help either to cut down and control your drinking or stop completely, and also some plans to maintain the improvement after that.

The GP may suggest different types of assessment and support options available to you, such as from local community alcohol services.

You can also ask about any free local support groups and other alcohol counselling that may suit you.

Find alcohol addiction support services in your area

If you have become physically dependent and need to stop drinking completely, stopping overnight could be harmful.

You should get advice about this and about any medicine you may need to do this safely.

The sorts of mild or moderate withdrawal symptoms that suggest you may need medicine include:

  • anxiety after waking
  • sweating and mild tremors
  • nausea or retching in the morning
  • vomiting

Call 999 if you have severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, including:

  • hallucinations
  • severe tremors
  • seizures or fits

Staying healthy and in control

Cutting down or stopping drinking is usually just the beginning, and most people will need some degree of help or a long-term plan to stay in control or completely alcohol free.

Getting the right support can be crucial to maintaining control in the future. Only relying on family, friends or carers for this often is not enough.

Ask a GP or alcohol service about what longer-term support is available in your area.

Self-help or mutual aid groups (groups such as AA or SMART Recovery groups) are accessible in most areas.

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